The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication-CBCP

CINEMA (Catholic INitiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation) of The Episcopal Commission on Social Communication of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines presents movies viewed in the light of the gospel. . *** For inquiries, please EMAIL: cbcpcinema@gmail.com *** CALL or TEXT: (02) 664 5886 *** or WRITE TO: CINEMA, Episcopal Commission on Social Communication, CBCP Compound, 470 General Luna St. Intramuros, Manila *** Enjoy the reviews, and THANK YOU!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sisterakas


LEAD CAST: Kris Aguino, Ai-Ai de las Alas, Vice Ganda, Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla, Xyriel Manabat  DIRECTOR:  Wenn V. Deramas  PRODUCER:  Star Cinema & Viva Films  GENRE:  Comedy  RUNNING TIME:  108 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:   Star Cinema & Viva Films  LOCATION:  Manila, Philippines

Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V14

Si Bernice (Vice Ganda) at si Detty (Ai-ai de las Alas) ay magkapatid na nagkahiwalay mula pagkabata.  Si Bernice, anak sa katulong ng ama ni Detty, ay lumaki nang may hinanakit kay Detty pagkat noong sila ay pinalayas sa tahanan nila Detty, hindi siya natulungan ng batang si Detty.  Magiging isang matagumpay na negosyante si Bernice at tataguriang “the lord of apparels”, pero brusko at bastos ito sa kanyang mga tauhan kung kaya’t ika-374 nang assistant niya ang lalayas sa kanya.  Magkakataong maghahanap sila ng bagong assistant ni Bernice nang darating naman sa opisina nila si Detty, naghahanap ng trabaho.  Tatanggapin ni Bernice bilang assistant si Detty na wala namang kamalay-malay na kapatid niyang mapaghiganti ang magiging amo niya.  Sa tindi ng kompetisyon mula sa kumpanyang pinamumunuan ni Roselle (Kris Aquino), darating sa puntong mag-aagawan pa si Bernice at si Roselle kay Detty, pagkat may talent si Detty sa pagdidibuho ng mga kasuotan. 
Sa aspetong teknikal ay masasabing pasado ang Sisterakas—ayos lang ang lights, sound, cinematography, sets, plot development, at talaga namang pinaghirapan ang mga damit ni Bernice—dapat lamang pagkat ang karakter nito’y “bongga” at hindi magpapasapaw. May kuwento din naman sana ang Sisterakas, at isang kuwentong hindi basta-basta babahingan ng siryosong manonood.  Lamang, nabubura ang halaga ng kuwento dahil sa mga eksaheradong pagpapatawa ng mga gumaganap, lalo na ni Ganda, na ang tanging puhunan sa pag-arte ay ang taray ng mga linyang namumutawi sa kanyang namumusargang mga labi.  Inasahan naming makakita naman ng pagbabago sa pagganap ni Ganda dito sa Sisterakas pero nabigo kami.  Pareho pa rin ng dati, mapa-sine o mapa-TV, “same same”, ika nga.  Si Aquino man ay… ganon pa rin, sa pagkilos, sa pananalita—para lang nagho-host ng TV show, mas mahaba nga lang ang mga pilikmata niya rito sa Sisterakas.  Masasabing si de las alas ang “nagdala” ng pelikula, gawa ng dibdiban niyang pagganap sa papel niyang hindi nawawalan ng sigla, bait at tiwala sa kapwa sa kabila ng lubos na pang-aapi.
Maraming tao sa sinehan noong araw na manood ang CINEMA ng Sisterakas, mga magulang na bitbit ang mga anak.  Naalala namin ang tanong ng isang7-taong gulang na bata sa kanyang ina noong pinanonood nila si Ganda sa telebisyon.  “Babae ba siya o lalake?”  Sagot ng ina, “Lalake!”  Tanong ulit ng paslit  “Eh bakit ganon siya?”   Paliwanag ng ina, “Nagpapatawa lang yan!” pagkat iniiwasan niya ang mahirap na pagpapaliwanag sa anak.  Sa Sisterakas, ipinapakita na batang paslit pa lamang si Bernice ay “iba” na siya.  Hindi tulad ng ibang mga batang lalaki na mahilig sa tirador, baril-barilan, at manghuli ng palaka, si Bernice ay mahusay magbuo ng mga kasuotan mula sa kung ano-anong bagay (tulad ng lumang diyaryo) at pakendeng-kendeng niya itong ipagmamalaki sa kapatid.  Kung panonoorin ninyo ito at isasama ang inyong mga murang-isip na mga anak, payo ng CINEMA, paghanda na kayo ng mga paliwanag kung sakaling tatanungin nila kayo kung si Ganda bas a Sisterakas ay “sister” o “brother”.


Flames of Love


LEAD CAST: Christopher de Leon, Dina Bonavie, Lanie Mercado, Ricky Davao, Jaclyn Jose, Allen Dizon, Valerie Conception, Megan Young  DIRECTOR: Gigi Javier-Alfonso  SCREENWRITER:  Baby Nebrida  PRODUCER:  Jody Nebrida  EDITOR:  Anna Espia  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Diwa de Leon  GENRE:  Family Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Agustin del Mundo RUNNING TIME:   150 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:  Solar Entertainment  LOCATION:  Philippines

Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA Rating: V 14

Flames of Love tells the stories several families undergoing crises due to certain misfortunes that plague families: infidelity, drug addiction, sexual abuse of minors, promiscuity, and even abortion.  Through all these domestic situations that drive family members to fight one another to a life-threatening extent, the power of faith prevails: they pray, and learn to forgive one another, although only after so many tears have been shed.
The film marks the return of family drama on the big screen.  Produced by Gold Barn Media and released through Solar Entertainment, Flames of Love tries to focus on despair, hate, hurt, lust, passion, and anger engulfing the hearts and minds of the characters.  It boasts of an all-star cast— Christopher de Leon, Dina Bonnevie, Lani Mercado, Ricky Davao, Jacklyn Jose, Allen Dizon, Megan Young, and Valerie Concepcion, all delivering their roles with remarkable sincerity.  One cinematographic handicap, though, is the use of too many “talking heads”, and with the kind of lines actors deliver, the movie consequently sounds uncomfortably preachy in some parts.
Flames of Love has laughter and tears and aims to impart valuable lessons on life and love, says its scriptwriter-producer Baby Nebrida, adding that “it provides a rich spiritual nourishment that will make you think of how a loving and merciful God can be in control of every near disaster in life.”  One thing stands out in the movie: it is not afraid to “tell it like it is”, portraying family situations so emotionally and realistically that viewers would find it easy to relate to.   Flames of Love was reportedly made “in answer to the call of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI to evangelize and spread God’s love and mercy through media as we celebrate the Year of Faith.”  It then becomes a "movie on faith guided by faith".  In consideration of its makers’ intentions, therefore, its zeal to preach becomes understandable.





El Presidente


LEAD CAST: Nora Aunor, E.R. Ejercito, Cristine Reyes, Cesar Montano  DIRECTOR: Mark Meilly  SCREENWRITER:  Roy Iglesia  PRODUCER:  Scenema Concept International, Viva films and CMB Films  GENRE:  Action, Historical Drama  RUNNING TIME: 160 minutes  LOCATION:  Philippines

Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  R 14 (For viewers 14 years old and above)

El Presidente exposes the political infighting, rivalries and intrigues during the revolution that saw Filipinos struggling for independence from Spanish Regime.  It also shows the inner struggle of Emilio Aguinaldo in the process of making decision between life and death, as his ability as a leader is being tested.  (Full review to follow)

Supremo

Cast:  Alfred Vargas, Mon Confiado, Nicco Manalo, Alex Vincent Medina, Edmon Romawac, Shielbert Manuel, Lehner Mendoza, Manu Respall, Jeff Fernandez, Banjo Romero, Alex Cabodil, Nica Naval and Hermie ConcepcionDirector:  Richard Somes: Screenplay: Jimmy Flores;  Producer: PM Vargas, Alfred Vargas, Riza Montelibano, Mai Montelibano and Ellen Ilagan ; Running Time: 150 minutes; Genre: Historical/ Bio-Drama; Location: Philippines

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
Rating: PG 13  (For viewers 13 and below with parental guidance)

Inilahad sa pelikula ang kuwento ni Andres Bonifacio, ang hinirang na Supremo ng Katipunan. Nagsimula ang kuwento taong 1882 sa pagkamatay ng unang asawa ni Bonifacio. Dito rin siya nagsimulang mamulat sa mga sakit ng lipunan kung saan ang kawalan ng katarungan at di pagkakapantay-pantay ng mga Pilipino at Kastila ang punong dahilan. Taong 1896, pinamunuan ni Bonifacio ang Katipunan, isang samahan ng mga Pilipinong rebolusyonaryong mandirigma. Bagama’t walang pormal na pagsasanay, sasabak sila sa digmaan upang labanan ang mapanupil na pamahalaan ng Espanya.  Susugod sila sa Intramuros upang kalampagin ang mapang-aping gobyerno sampu ng mga kawal nito.
Muling inilahad ng Supremo ang isang bahagi ng ating kasaysayan bilang isang bansa sa mata ng isang bayaning lagi nating naririnig ngunit hindi gaanong kilala—si Andres Bonifacio. Matagumpay ang pelikula sa pagnanais nitong buhayin ang mga rebolusyon na pinamunuan ng Katipunan. Bagama’t hindi kalakihang-produksyon, nagawa pa rin nitong iparamdam ang epiko at lawak ng digmaang pinag-buwisan ng buhay ng ating mga bayani noong panahon ng mga Kastila. Naging tunay at totoo rin sa kasaysayan ang pelikula kung kaya’t maraming kabataan ang makakapulot ng aral sa pelikula patungkol sa ating kasaysayan. Mahusay ang pagganap ng mga pangunahing tauhan bagama’t kulang sa emosyon ang ibang karakter. Maayos ang kabuuan ng pelikula mula sa disenyong pamproduksyon hanggang sa pag-iilaw at editing. Nagawa nitong pukawin ang natutulog na makabayang damdamin ng mga manonood. (May isa lamang kaming tanong tungkol sa isang bagay na sa tingin namin ay nakakabawas sa pagiging makatotothanan ng Supremo: bakit naman po napaka-sosyal naman ng porma ng bida?  Napaka-moderno ng gupit ng buhok, at sa puti ng plantsadong kamisadentro ay--nadinig naming wika ng isang manonood--"parang advertisement ng Tide!"  May pagka-banidoso po ba si Gat Andres Bonifacio?)
Anong pag-ibig kaya ang hihigit pa kaysa dalisay at dakilang pag-ibig sa inang-bayan?  Iyan ang mga katagang pinasikat ni Gat Andres Bonifacio. Ito ay kitang-kita sa alab ng damdamin na ipinamalas ni Bonifacio para sa bayan, para sa mga inaapi nating kababayan. Bagama’t naging madugo ang kanilang naging pamamaraan, naging bugso lamang ito ng kanilang dinanas na kaapihan. Maaring sa panahong iyon ay wala nang ibang paraan upang ipagtanggol ang kanilang kaapihan kundi ang madugong digmaan. Kita naman na ito’y hindi naging madali at ginawa lamang nila ang pagbubuwis ng buhay alang-alang sa kalayaan at katarungan. Katapangan at pagmamalasakit ang ipinakitang halimbawa ni Bonifacio. Yun nga lang, minarapat sana niyang tambalan ng wasto at kalmadong pag-iisip ang katapangang ito naging mas matagumpay pa siya at hindi nakaranas ng kaapihan sa kamay ng kapwa rebolusyonaryong mga Pilipino. Nakakalungkot isipin ang naging katapusan ng kwento ni Bonifacio, ngunit marami pa ring aral na matutunan dito. Sa huli’y kasaysayan pa rin ang maghuhusga sa pagkabayani ng isang tao, kahit na siya ay itinuring pang isang “Supremo”.

Cloud Atlas


LEAD CAST: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith Davi, Sudan Sarandon, Hugh Grant  DIRECTOR:  Lana & Andy Wachowski & Tom Tykwer  SCREENWRITER:   Lana & Andy Wachowski & Tom Tykwer  PRODUCER: Grant Hill & Stefan Amdt  EDITOR:  Alexander Berner  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil  GENRE:  Drama & Science Fiction  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Frank Greiber RUNNING TIME:  163 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR:  Warner Bros. Pictures  LOCATION:  Germany

Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  2
CINEMA rating:  V 18 

Cloud Atlas threads together six stories that examine how the actions of individuals impact one another in the past, present and future.  The six stories take the viewer from the South Pacific in year 1849 to in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future in year 2321. According to novelist David Mitchell who wrote the original (novel Cloud Atlas) in 2004, the film is structured, “as a sort of pointillist mosaic: We stay in each of the six worlds just long enough for the hook to be sunk in, and from then on the film darts from world to world at the speed of a plate-spinner, revisiting each narrative for long enough to propel it forward.”
Critics are divided on Cloud Atlas.  Seeing the film previewed at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival where it received a 10-minute standing ovation, film critics either acclaimed it as one of the most important films of the year, or shrugged it off as a “totally unparalleled disaster.”  The gorgeous sets, makeup and special effects definitely add to the credibility of the characters in this film co-written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer.   Cloud Atlas owes its uniqueness to the ambitious casting; big stars play six roles each, appearing in all stories, and reprising their roles with equal elan and competence.
But what is Cloud Atlas trying to say to the contemporary man?  The six narratives are independent of one another and yet they are united in celebrating positive values, above all the dignity of all human beings.  Due to its complexity, however, this is a movie that may need several viewings to be fully appreciated, and even then it will be comprehended individually, in accordance with each viewer’s capacity to intuit its worth.  This would be a nice film to watch (even on DVD) with the whole family—it could lead to profound discussions even among teenagers.



Friday, December 7, 2012

Skyfall


CAST:  Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris; DIRECTOR:  Sam Mendes;  SCREENWRITER:  John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade; PRODUCER:  Eon Productions; GENRE:  Action-thriller;  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Roger Deakins;  DISTRIBUTOR:  MGM & Sony Pictures Entertainment; RUNNING TIME:  142 minutes;  LOCATION:  United Kingdom, China, Turkey

Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  3
CINEMA rating:  V 14
After being written off as dead, James Bond (Daniel Craig) reemerges in the apartment of M (Judi Dench), right when she is writing his obituary.  Considerably enervated by the bullet that had hit and sent him plummeting down a raging river and spending some time as an unknown entity on some faraway beach, he is subjected to fitness tests for reactivation.  The tests reveal Agent 007’s condition to be below par—scoring low at target shooting among others—nonetheless, M conceals the test results from Bond, and orders him back to service, much to the chagrin of the new boss, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). As far as M is concerned, only Bond would be up to hunting down the villain Javier Bardem (Raoul Silva).
Any James Bond film, for all the vices it glorifies and justifies, is welcome entertainment fare anytime.  Credit, maybe, goes to Bond’s plots, or gadgets, or villains, for the habit-forming quality of 007 movies.  Or maybe it’s the Sean Connery mystique that got movie buffs hooked on the series decades (50 years?) ago.  James Bonds of varying charms and shortcomings have come and gone, but none, it seems, approximates the original James Bond’s grace and grit more closely than Daniel Craig.  Somehow his James Bond comes across as more real, alive and authentic.  Now, even if this, Skyfall, were to be the last 007 movie to be ever made, it certainly would be the perfect closure to a much-adored, enduring spy series. 
There’s an element in this particular 007 sequel that was never even hinted at in the previous Bond films—conscience.  The probability shines that despite their violence-fraught occupations, James Bond and M feel that in their heart of hearts, they are really servants to a higher cause.  Even the villain Bardem who becomes heartless from his woundedness musters the guts to prick M’s conscience, saying, “Think on your sins.”  And this happens in the ruins of a chapel in the house where James Bond spent his childhood.  From the dusty and broken symbols of the faith in that chapel, it seems Bond grew up Catholic.   Bond himself, hurt and angry at being shot on orders of M, (making him a virtual “collateral damage”), resurrects himself from his non-existence as a nobody on an island to hunt down Bardem, believing he is serving a greater good even though aware that M could sacrifice him again if need be.  Another humane touch in Skyfall is the affection manifested between Bond and M.  (Spoiler coming!)  The grand old dame M dies in James Bond’s arms; Bond weeps, and the viewer surmises that through all the years, Bond has never loved any woman more than this maternal surrogate.



Rise of the Guardians


Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law; Direction: Peter Ramsey; Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire; Producer: Christina Steinberg
Nancy Bernstein
; Music: Alexansew Desplat; Genre: Animation; Running Time: 97 minutes; Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Technical Assessment:  3.5
Moral Assessment:  4
CINEMA Rating: GP (for viewers of all ages)

In the animated world, mythical characters are real and assigned to protect certain aspects of childhood. North, better known as Santa Claus  (voiced by Alec Baldwin) and guardian of wonder, is alerted when Pitch or the Boogie Man (Jude Law), keeper of nightmares, threatens to overtake the children with fear to avenge his own disbelieved-in state. So North calls in the other guardians to defeat Pitch. The guardians include Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), guardian of dreams, Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), guardian of hope and Sandman, guardian of dreams. However, the guardians’ attempts to stop Pitch fail and one after the other they are overtaken and children lose faith in them. In a last ditch effort, North tries to swear in Jack Frost (Chris Pine), guardian of fun and spirit of winter, to help them defeat Pitch and save the children. But Frost needs a lot of convincing as he has remained invisible due to children’s disbelief in him until he discovers his past life and his heroism that merited his being chosen as a guardian.
Rise of the Guardians is a well told well-crafted animated film. The plot and narrative are fluid and tight. Characterization is enhanced by powerful performances from seasoned actors. Visually, the film is a feast for the eyes and the imagination as it seamlessly blends technical ingenuity with craftsmanship. The film is captivatingly entertaining both for the intended young viewers and their adult companions.
Most films meant for children carry with them a strong message of hope, love and unity. Rise of the Guardians does this as well in a very enchanting manner as it makes a play on childhood characters even adults love to continually cling to. The film reiterates the need to protect children with fantasy characters but at the same time it reinforces their faith in a higher being. Unity, commitment to one’s duties and courage are values displayed by the guardians in their quest to defeat Pitch and protect the children of the world. In doing so, the film teaches children that good will always prevail with teamwork and dedication.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trouble with the curve


CAST: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Joe Massingil, Chelcie Ross, Bob Gunton, Robert Patrick  DIRECTOR: Robert Lorenz  WRITER: Randy Brown  RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes  DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.  LOCATION: United States
 
Technical:  3
Moral:  3.5
CINEMA rating: V 14
Octogenarian Gus (Clint Eastwood) is losing his sight, and along with it perhaps his contract as a baseball scout which will expire in three months.  His only living relative is a 32-year old daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), an attorney with a bright future as a partner in a law firm in Atlanta.  Gus’ boss and friend Pete (John Goodman) cannot convince the stubborn Gus to heed the doctor’s advice to have his eyes fixed, so he prevails upon Mickey to accompany her dad on another scouting assignment, to North Carolina.  Mindful of her promising career, Mickey nonetheless spares a few days to be with the father she never felt loved by.  Here Mickey meets Johnny Flannagan (Justin Timberlake), a former pitcher now scouting for the Boston Red Sox.  As it turns out, the decision to take the trip with her father is one that will lead to others never planned or hoped for.
The plot may be formulaic, even predictable, but it is redeemed by the superior quality of the other technical elements, like crisp editing, a good cast, charismatic performances, and character development.  What director Robert Lorenz lacks by way of visual excitement, he more than fills up with perceptive characterization.  Eastwood is Eastwood, and being the ultimate professional he definitely delivers at whatever role he chooses to take on.  Here he proves to be a spunky match to Adams’ chutzpah, grumpy when he needs to be, and tender when the moment calls for it, as in that scene by his wife’s grave where alone he holds a picnic for two.   
Perhaps Trouble with the Curve is too mushy and contrived for the taste of some, but many will find the emotions and situations it presents easy to resonate with.   It is populated by warm and real people who find themselves in dilemmas all too familiar to the rest of us.  Baseball may be the film’s premise but the movie is not about the game; it’s about being in touch—not just superficially with people who matter, or with the work we do, but most of all being in touch with one’s deepest feelings.  It’s about following the inner compass that enables us to steer our lives and to understand and be freed from half-neglected hurts.  Trouble with the Curve also symbolically applies the brakes on cold technology (evaluating baseball players’ potential through sheer computer power alone) and gently and effectively resurrects enduring human values that hold the world together, like genuine caring for another person, communication between parent and child, fidelity in marital love, etc.  This entertaining and superbly told story is for families to watch and then discuss over a midnight snack.  Teenagers, watch the behavior of baseball phenomenon Bo Gentry (Joe Massingil) towards “Peanut Boy” and see how he ends up.  Surprise!

Paranormal Activity 4

Cast: Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Aiden Lovekamp, Brady Allen, Stephen Dunham, Alexondra Lee;   Direction: Henry Hoost, Ariel Schulman; Screenplay: Zach Estrin; Producer; Oren Peli, Jason Blum, Steven Schheider; Cinematography:; Music;    Editing:  ; Genre: Horror-Suspense; Running Time:  94 minutes; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Location: USA

Technical Assessment            :  2   
Moral Assessment            :  1.5   
Rating                                    :  V18
Paranormal Activity 4 is set five years after the original film ended when the demonic possessed Katie and her sister’s son Hunter have gone missing after the brutal murder of his parents. This time the events are recorded via modern portable technology which makes it more logical for the supposed continuous filming of events.
Alex’s (Kathryn Newton) mother, Holly (Alexondra Lee) has just decided to be a good Samaritan and look after the neighbor’s 5-year old son Robbie, when his mother was taken to the hospital. During this time, Alex notices weird and creepy incidents involving Robbie and her younger brother Wyatt and records them in their laptop. Later Alex discovers Robbie’s mother is at home and Wyatt is heard to be talking to invisible figures insisting his name is not Hunter. However, the demonic hunting continues until Wyatt is possessed by an evil spirit and Katie returns to brutally kill his parents and Ben.  At the end of the film, a stunned and scared Alex is swarmed by Katie and a group of women, in reference to the original film’s witch’s cult.
The franchise, although retaining its reality-based attraction, has worn off its appeal with a very thin plot and mediocre directorial interpretation. The special effects are as clichéd as the storyline. It relies more on scare tactics rather than on solid storytelling to justify its horror-suspense moments.  The sequel does nothing to build on the core storyline of the franchise, neither does it have independence to be understood on its own. Performances are weak and unconvincing. Over-all, the movie is just an unsuccessful attempt to cash out on its predecessors’ success. Perhaps only the die-hard fans of the Paranormal movie series would find this one worth the admission price.
Good versus evil and again the good innocent ones are helplessly tossed aside and killed. Although the Church recognizes demonic possessions are paranormal occurrences, it cannot be said that these are beyond Divine intervention. What continuously triggers the demon-possessed Katie to kill people is not logically explained.  Another disturbing idea in this film is the fact that Alex’s parents were brutally murdered after being gracious and charitable to their neighbor. In a way, it might reinforce the idea that charity may be rewarded with evil and therefore should be exercised selectively.
The movie is too violent for young audiences. Theme, language and treatment are inappropriate even for adults. Nothing can be gained from watching this film.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries

CAST:  Jessy McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Nathan Phillips, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Dimitri DiatchenkoDIRECTOR:  Bradley Parker, SCREENWRITER:  Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Fan Dyke Martin Solibakke, PRODUCER:  Oren Peli, Brian Witten, Bradley Parker, EDITOR:  Stan Stalfas, MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Diego Stocco,  RUNNING TIME:   86 minutes, GENRE:  Drama, Horror, CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Morten Soborg, DISTRIBUTOR:   Warner Bros., LOCATION:  Hungary & Serbia

Technical Assessment:   2.5
Moral Assessment:           2
CINEMA Rating:                  V18

Four young Americans Chris (Jessy McCartney), Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Amanda (Devin Kelley) and Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) decide to go for an “extreme tour” of Pripyat, a Ukrainian city which was home to Chernobyl nuclear power plant workers. It has been abandoned after the infamous disaster from one of Chernobyl’s nuclear reactors 25 years ago. While the government allows tourists to visit the area, there are strict security measures. The tourists were joined by a honeymooning couple (Nathan Phillips) and Zoe (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) from Australia and led by tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) who is an ex-special forces soldier. They were denied access to the town by guards at the checkpoint and Uri manages to get them in through the woods. The tourists wander through abandoned playgrounds and buildings and saw the Chernobyl reactors from the balcony. Suddenly, they hear strange noises and hurry back to their van but it won’t start. Dark descends and it becomes clear to them that the town is not as deserted as they were made to believe.

The first part of the movie does well in showing the devastation caused by the nuclear disaster – the playground scene is eerie and the viewer somehow gets the feel of being there. Lights, sound effects and the music score are predictable but they do establish atmosphere and succeed in some tension-filled scenes. The handheld camera throughout the movie can give you a headache. The characters are not developed and the actors didn’t have any good material to show their worth. The storyline is pitiful, the dialogue stunted and filled with foul language, the violence is senseless. And the scary moments are predictable – nothing new here.

What message can you get from a horror movie when it is not even clear what you should fear? Are they wild animals, mutants and monsters or all of the above? We all fear the unknown but it also excites us. For these young people spontaneity and the need for novel experiences, off the beaten track tours like Pripyat can be exhilarating. But one needs to look out for safety precautions and ensure not just enjoyment but also greater enrichment in the experience. And when things get out of hand, the best thing to do is to think or listen to your natural instinct for self-preservation. This, the characters failed to do.

The story started with a lot of promise, given the Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath. It is a shame that this was not developed to its full potential.

If you are looking for a good thrill, CINEMA does not recommend Chernobyl Diaries.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Breaking Dawn 2


CAST: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattison, Taylor Lautner, Mackenzie Foy; Direction: Bill Condon; Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg; Story: Stephanie Meyer; Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro; Editing: Virginia Katz; Producer: Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt, Stephanie Meyer; Music: Cartner Burwell; Location: Seatle; Genre: Drama Fantasy; Distributor: Summit Entertainment; Running Time: 116 minutes.
 
Technical Assessment : 3 stars
Moral Assessment : 3.5 stars
Rating : V14

Breaking Dawn 2 picks up from the last sequel and sees a fully transformed mother and vampire in Bella (Kristen Stewart), who embraces this new life with great happiness. Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), Bella and Edward’s daughter, is special. Not only is she half vampire—gifted with superhuman speed and strength and the ability to penetrate mental shields and project her thoughts to another; she is also half human—warm blooded and with the ability to grow and mature. But Bella’s fairytale is doused with stinging cold waters when Irina, a vampire from the Denali clan tells the Volturi that the couple violated one of the most important laws and created an immortal child. Now, Bella realizes she has to protect her child from the Volturi. So the Cullens gather witnesses from foreign covens and Jacob’s new pack in the hope of standing up against the Volturi.
The technical aspect of the film is remarkably clean and enjoyable. There is that seemless overlapping of real action and CGIs that audience can easily get lost inside the fantasy world. Storywise, it did stay faithful to the book but interpreted it a tad too slow and trite with too much sentimentality and MTV-moments. However, it was a good directorial call to include the battle scene between the two groups as it added the much needed action and recaptured the audiences’ sympathy towards the characters. Although the actors displayed understanding and chemistry of both their roles and with and one another’s characters, Bella still has that irritating insecure awkwardness as a vampire—a far comparison to the mysterious iciness of the rest.  (But, of course, of all of them Bella is the only one who wanted to become a vampire).
There had been critics of Bella’s immaturity in the previous films as well as disdain towards a story that centers on a girl chasing a boy the last installments; here a more mature and selfless Bella emerges and shifts her attention from herself and her heartaches her family and loved ones.
If there is one thing Breaking Dawn 2 emphasizes it is the importance of family and how one’s love for them would compel us to sacrifice, fight and risk everything for their sake. The film also shows that a family not only means one blood relative.  Breaking Dawn 2—and perhaps the entire Twilight series—is not a vampire story where the creatures kill or are hunted but a story about love, acceptance, family and sacrifice set in a time where vampires and werewolves existed.
CINEMA recommends both the novel and the movie for teenagers as it brings into focus the value of marriage, the need to protect life in the womb and the importance of family.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Suddenly it's magic


Cast: Erich Gonzales, Mario Maurer, Joross Gamboa, Jestoni Alarcon; Director: Rory Quintos;  Screenplay:  Vanessa Valdez; Producer/ Distributor: Star Cinema ; Running Time:120 minutes; Location: Ilocos; Genre: Romance-Drama

Technical Assessment: 3

Moral Assessment: 3

CINEMA Rating: For viewers ages 14 and above

Si Joey (Erich Gonzales) at Marcus (Mario Maurer), bagamat nasa magkaibang panig ng daigdig, ay nasa parehong industriya ng romansa at pantasya. Si Joey ay isang baker chef  sa Ilocos na gumagawa ng cupcakes at kamangha-manghang romantic wedding cakes. Habang si Marcus naman ay isang sikat na artista sa Thailand na kilala sa paggawa ng mga romantic movies. Parehas din sila ng pinagdadaanan- si Joey ay iniwan ng kanyang groom sa araw ng kanilang kasal, habang ang ka-love-team/ girlfriend naman ni Marcus ay ipinagpalit siya sa ibang lalaki. Sa labis na sama ng loob, tila natabangan na si Marcus sa paggawa ng pelikula kasama ang ka-love-team na ex-girlfriend kung kaya’t maiisipan niyang magpakalayo muna panandalian at pumunta sa isang lugar na walang nakakakilala sa kanya. Ang kanyang yaya na Filipina ang magbibigay sa kanya ng ideya na magpunta ng Pilipinas at siya nga ay tumuloy dito. Sa Laoag ay makikilala niya si Joey at sa kabila ng di magandang umpisa ay magkakapalagayang loob din sila. Ngunit magtagal kaya ang kanilang relasyon kung may naghihintay na showbiz career si Marcus sa Thailand habang si Joey ay naghihilom pa lang ang sugat ng nakaraan?

Isang formula romance ang Suddenly It’s Magic. Lahat ng inaasan sa isang pelikulang romansa ay ipinagsiksikan nang pilit sa pelikulang ito. Gayunpaman, nagawa naman nitong magbigay ng kahit papaano’y kilig sa mga manonood. Malinaw naman ang daloy ng kuwento, pati na ang daloy ng damdamin, ngunit hindi maitatangging pawang naging predictable pa rin ang pelikula sa katapusan nito. Mahusay ang mga pangunahing tauhan at may kani-kaniya silang galing at ningning, yun nga lang, tila kulang sa “magic” ang kanilang tambalan. Dala na rin ito marahil ng pagiging magkaiba ng kanilang kultura at salita. Sadyang mahirap silang gawan ng koneksyon at kitang-kita ang kamay ng mga manunulat upang ipilit ito. Sa kabila nito’y hindi naman maitatanggi ang malinis ang sinematograpiya at talaga namang nakabibighani ang mga pinili nilang lokasyon at tanawin. Kaya’t masasabing kaaya-aya na ring panoorin ang pelikula.

Mababaw lamang ang mga inihaing tema ng pelikula bagama’t pawang mabibigat na itong dalahin sa mga tauhan. Ang pinaka-sentro dito ay patungkol sa pagpili sa pagitan ng damdamin at kinabukasan, puso o trabaho. Sino nga ba ang nararapat na magbigay sa mga pagkakataong kinakailangan ang isang matinding desisyon kung nakasalang-alang ay ang kasiyahan at mga pangarap? Ipinakita sa pelikula na ang pagpaparaya, pagbibigay at pagpapatawad ay susi sa malayang pagmamahal. Ang mga ito rin ang magpapatibay sa relasyon ng dalawang nagmamahalan. Kita rin sa pelikula ang pagbibigay-halaga ng dalawa sa Diyos, magkaiba man sila ng relihiyon, sa kanilang mga desisyon. Yun nga lang may ilang tema ang pelikula na nakababahala pa rin, tulad na lamang ng pagsasama ng dalawang bida sa iisang bahay kahit hindi pa sila kasal. Wala namang pinakitang sensualidad ang pelikula ngunit pawang ipinakita na rin sa kuwento na sila ay nagsama. Hindi rin malinaw ang naging tayo ng pelikula patungkol sa pagkakaroon ng anak sa labas at relasyon sa labas ng kasal. Ang malinaw lamang na sinasabi ng Suddenly It’s Magic ay, lahat ay magiging maayos basta’t susundin ang idinidikta ng damdamin. Ito’y hindi pa labis mauunawan ng mga batang manonood kung kaya’t minamarapat ng CINEMA na ang pelikulang ito ay para lamang sa mga manonood na 14 taong gulang pataas.